Since the studio's first furniture concept, the MK1 Transforming Coffee Table, each year the design world looks forward to the next creation from Duffy London. Tables supported by balloons, swings as dining chairs, or an ocean for a table top; these designs think outside the box. We visited founder Christopher Duffy to hear about the thoughts behind these concepts.
Chris Duffy grew up in East London, studied furniture design in Brighton, and began his design studio from a rented room.
“I started off making little digital canvases that lit up, because that was the only thing I could make from the room I was renting when I moved back to London," says Chris. "I then started making a few tables that lit up or had chalkboard surfaces."
“After that came the MK1 coffee table – this is the only design from that early period I’ve kept on making. It works really well, I’ve tried to make variations of the design every year for the past 10 years, with MK2, MK3, version etc, but I just keep going back to that original MK1 version! People love it, it just works!”
Two MK1 Tables, with two bespoke Surf-Ace Tables
The MK1 Transforming Coffee Table converts seamlessly from a coffee table into a dining table, with streamlined movements. In solid walnut or oak, it blends solidity with flexibility.
“For me, it was never about how it looked, but the thing that people always say they love about it is that it’s attractive. I designed it for myself purely for practicality – I live in a small flat in London, so it was simply to accommodate my tiny space, which didn’t have room for a coffee and a dining table. So it does the job – and people also think it looks great.”
The MK1 Transforming Coffee Table launched Duffy London into the design world. Since then, they have continued to make an impression, marking themselves out as pioneers of imaginative, high-end conceptual designs.
“The most popular design to date has got to be the Abyss Table. When we launched the MK1 Table, that was huge and everyone thought that was a hit, and then I launched the Balloon Table and that went viral – and the Swing Table was the same, and we thought that was as good as it gets – but the Abyss Table was a completely new level of attention.”
Up Balloon Coffee Table Edition
“We tend to have about two to three variations on a design – for instance (not to give too much away!), the Swing Table design began as a square, then we had round versions, and now we’re developing a circular variation that also has a small bar in the centre, so you can serve drinks or food from the middle of it. We’ll be launching that in the next few weeks.
“But I won’t give away any of our completely new concepts – I’m quite superstitious and don’t want to jinx them; if I brag about them, something will stop it from happening.
“All the designs I really like are the ones I’m currently working on – we’re lucky to get one or two new designs out each year. But focusing on one design for too long, for me, isn’t what I want – I love designing and developing.”
For Chris, the concept or idea behind the design has always been his main focus, with the result that every new design is completely unique.
“We actually get a lot of stick for that,” he says, “people say, you can’t do that, it’s like nothing you’ve done before.
“I try to stay away from trends, I don’t know how possible it is, but our designs are never base on trends, they’re just ideas and concepts – we’re really just trying to come up with the best ideas and make the very best furniture that we can.”
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